Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wannabee More Organized Wednesday - My Budget

I've never made it a secret that I'm not an effective money manager.
My friend Missie, however, is the money manager from Hell...and I mean that in the nicest way.
If you want it managed, tell Missie, and all will be managed.  You may not like it when she says, "No, it's not in the budget," but at least you'll have money for groceries the last week of the month.  

The Head of My Household and I are both professionals...I guess we'd be considered middle class...but in today's economy, even those of us with good jobs and college degrees are having to follow a budget carefully and stretch every dollar.  That doesn't work out too well for those of us who've never been very good at just that kind of thing.

The Head of My Household, on the other hand, is a very effective money manager, but in order to stay married, we decided to split our money and budget several years ago.  Truthfully, money is the only thing we actually fight about.  I've been running out of money at the end of the month here lately, and that drives him bonkers.  When I run out, he has to take up the slack, which depletes his reserves, so of course, he acts all grumpity until the next paycheck.

I've crunched and crunched my budget to figure out where the majority of my $ goes, and as much as I don't want to admit it, I have no control over myself when it comes to one particular category.
Beginning immediately, I've decided to accept the fact that we spend entirely too much $ on food...including lunch money, snacks, eating out and groceries.  Yes, food is a necessity, but I get so distracted by all the other nice things in the, I seem to find myself in the grocery store on my way home every. single. day.

When I plan our meals and we eat at home, we spend much less.  Duh, right?  While there may not be that much difference for a family of 2-3 in eating out compared to eating in, there is a huge difference when you're feeding 5 and sometimes 6 people each night.  
I've always been a couponer as well, but that too takes organization...sometimes I coupon well, and sometimes...well, I just don't.  
Many weeks I end up in the grocery store on my daily trek, asking my flustered, exhausted, aggravated self, "What are we going to eat tonight?"
I don't have a plan, a list, a coupon...nothing.
Those are the trips where I end up leaving with over $100 worth of stuff...but still nothing to eat for dinner that night or any other for that matter.

My friend Missie says enough is enough.
I shall from now on show up at work on Friday mornings with a list...a list of meals and groceries for the weekend and upcoming week.  
I shall leave work as early as we are allowed and take a field trip to the local (20 min. away) Wal-Mart.
Once there, I will stay focused on my list.
I shall not look all around me and be easily distracted by all the shiny things. 
I shall not buy $5 DVDs.
I shall not buy doggie duds or extra treats...and
I shall not browse the magazine section.
I will, I honestly swear, only buy items that are on my list.

I will also stay within my allotted grocery budget.

I will also use Wednesday as my accountability...I will admit to myself whether or not I was able to stick to my budget or not and how I managed to do it...or not. 

This past Friday I made a trial run and spent $17 over the amount I've allotted myself per week (I'm actually going to put the cash in weekly envelopes from now on though).
The Head of My Household is doubtful that I'll have enough willpower not to open the envelopes until the week they're allotted I've asked him to hide them from me :/
That may sound like a cop-out to some folks, but to me it's a system of checks and balances.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up, and I don't want to worry about how I'm going to pay for the food related to each holiday.  Missie says I need to add the ingredients for the special meals to each of the other weekly lists so I don't overburden any particular week.  Sounds good to me!

Except for my $17 over tab I've done ok this week so far.  Here's the run-down of this week's menu:

Saturday:  store bought pizza (Great Value was ok in a pinch :/)
Sunday: Pumpkin Trifle at church for lunch and Pizza Casserole for dinner
Monday: 5 ingredient parmesan tilapia (Rachael Ray recipe)
Tuesday: crock-pot barbeque chicken
Wednesday: church night supper
Thursday:  Baked Potato Soup
Friday:  Payday, November Budget Planning and Grocery day (GULP, GULP and GULP)

**I'll share the recipes for Pizza Casserole, the tilapia, barbeque chicken and Baked Potato Soup in upcoming Weekend Cooking (hosted by Beth  F. Reads) posts on Sundays :)

So far so good this week...I've made everything except the Baked Potato Soup, which I will put together Wednesday night before I go to bed.  I'm LOVING have the main portion of our meal ready when we walk in the door in the afternoons!

Wish me luck!


  1. Good luck!
    On lean weeks I do a meal planner as we too, spend too much in the food dept.
    I don't believe in going without but it is all the extras. The Supermarkets do not do enough to give us bargains on the essentials and fruit and veg.


  2. We are in the same boat. It's FOOD that is causing us to go over each and every month. With my gluten issues, a lot of the gluten free stuff is much more expensive than what I used to buy
    and now I end up buying both versions since the kids and hub do not like the gluten free stuff.

    The thing is, we have a very busy work week and lots of activities although my intentions are often good, cooking on Sunday for the week is an example, we sometimes can't get home to eat it!

  3. I've saved money by menu planning. I don't find myself in the grocery store all the time like I used to picking up random items. It is is tough stretching from paycheck to paycheck!

    It sounds like you are really going to work at it though (gulp) and that will make a difference.

  4. Good luck, sounds like you are very organised with the new routine already! I menu plan weekly (we don't eat out at all) but I order all my groceries online. I do have to pay a small delivery charge but I lack the restraint to not go crazy at the supermarket so it still works out cheaper in the long run :P

  5. Carol, it's astonishing to me how much it costs to eat well...I live in MS where the obesity rate is one of the highest in the U.S. per capita...but one of the reasons is bc eating Ramen noodles (and other such manufactured nonsense) at .50 per pack per meal is cheap, cheap, cheap.

    Ti, I've spent more money over the last few months trying to buy the freshest produce and foods available. It is absolutely insane.

    Peaceful, meal planning is definitely step 1...I also feel better...calmer...bc I don't have to make that same decision day in and day out. It's already decided!

    Sam, I'm pretty good at making a plan; it's following through I sometimes have a problem with...keep your fingers crossed for me!
    Oh! I would LOVE to order my groceries online so that I never even stepped foot in the store...I'm convinced grocery stores make their money off impulse buys...if we were all just buying what we needed and nothing more, all the grocery stores would go bankrupt.

  6. I'm trying to do more organization in this area, too. That's why you'll see my Pinterest account BLOWING UP with recipes. I spend far too much eating out, and it's a side effect of commuting almost an hour each way to work and getting up at 5am (and not wanting to pack a lunch at that hour). I've done much better in the last few weeks at planning meals, eating the leftovers, and following through. Now I just need to get some specific budget numbers in place and I'm golden. :D